Kirk Cousins is out and Alex Smith is in for the Washington Redskins in 2018. Washington was a third-place team in 2017 and really hasn’t been a legit contender since they lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Washington does have some good things going for them though which makes them no easy out on a week to week basis. A good head coach, solid offensive line, and above defense makes them an interesting team to pay attention to. Is Washington a legit contender to be a playoff team in 2018? What can we expect from the Washington Redskins heading into training camp?
3 Position Battles To Watch:
1. Running Back: Derrius Guice, Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson, Semaje Perine
The expectation is that Guice becomes the guy right away. He was drafted in the second round for a reason and realistically might have been better than Leonard Fournette during his college days at LSU. Off the field, concerns dropped him to the 2nd round but this guy has talent and vision to become the lead back. Both Rob Kelley and Semaje Perine don’t have a ton of juice to their games but maybe will steal some short yardage work. That will have an impact on Guice’s fantasy value if his touchdowns get swiped. It’s probably pretty safe to say that Chris Thompson is locked in as the third down back regardless of whether Guice proves capable to start right away.
2. Defensive Tackle: Stacy McGee, Matt Ioannidis
This Redskins front doesn’t look too shabby. Da’Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen should be a good one-two punch. Well, at least in the run game anyway. Ioannidis played well in year two coming out of Temple and racked up 4.5 sacks in 2017. I would expect him to get a volume of work while McGee comes in with some depth. McGee also played the run well totaling 44 tackling a year ago.
3. Cornerback: Orlando Scandrick, Fabian Moreau, Greg Stroman, Josh Holsey, Quinton Dunbar, Adonis Alexander
We know what we’re getting out of Josh Norman but the rest of this secondary has big questions. Kendall Fuller was dynamic for Washington in the slot a year ago ranking as the best in the NFL but he’s on his way to KC as part of the Alex Smith deal. The Skins signed Orlando Scandrick to hopefully take his place. Scandrick can play but he’s starting to age and health has always been a concern. Fabian Moreau wasn’t great as a rookie either but he was dealing with a torn pec to start the year so hopefully, he can take a leap. Then there’s a bunch of Virginia Tech guys who normally pan out well in the NFL. Alexander has big-time talent and was taken in the supplemental draft. With a solid front 7 already in place, if the Skins can find some production from this corner group, this team could surprise people.
Ready To Breakout: Preston Smith
Preston Smith went from 4 sacks to 8 sacks in 2017 and no one is really talking about him. That’s because Ryan Kerrigan gets most of the attention. Washington has really upgraded their defensive front in recent years and d-line coach, Jim Tomsula, has these guys rolling. Jonathan Allen balled out in his rookie year too. If this front can get heat on the quarterback with teams doubling Kerrigan early and often, look for Smith to really take off. The former 2nd round pick from Mississippi State in 2015 has graded as an above average player thus far but I’m expecting year three to be a huge year.
Rookie To Watch: Da’Ron Payne
The Redskins strategy to improve the run game didn’t go unnoticed. Payne will probably hunk down the nose tackle spot in the 3-4 defense with his former Alabama teammate, Jonathan Allen next to him in the three-technique. Payne plays the run extremely well. That isn’t a surprise though coming from Alabama. What I want to know is if he has any success attacking the quarterback. Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson, and Dalvin Tomlinson are similar molds playing the run well but don’t have big sack production. Can Payne become better than his former Bama teammates?
Fantasy Sleeper: Jordan Reed
People are starting not to like Jordan Reed in fantasy for one simple reason, health. When the guy plays, Reed has proven to be a fantasy stud. Especially at a position like tight end where there is virtually no top end talent. Reed has never played a full 16 game season so there’s really no reason to trust him but it’s starting to become worth the risk of admission. He has to be do for a big season or at least a better one after only playing in 6 games. Reed is just two years removed from an 11 touchdown season. If you need a tight end in fantasy, Reed may be the way to go if he falls in drafts.